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Two little raspberries - Twin newborn photography

Newborn Photography Twin Baby Girls

I love baby photos, especially slice-of-life style pics at home, or gorgeous portrait shots. But nothing beats the newbie newness of hospital photos for me, babies change so quickly and the time spent after their birth is a squishy evolution between growing babies, and babies growing you.

Meet Scarlett and Winter. Super sweeties.

Sweetie pie, a new little friend

This is Charli, a gorgeous little girl who was born last week to a lovely friend of mine :)

I love taking squishy newborn still-in-hospital new photos, snapshots for loved ones, there's nothing quite like these first few days!

 
 
 
 
 

The part and the whole of our #autism family

So, things were up in the air for our family for about 6 weeks or so regarding this potential huge change. There was waiting. Exploring. Investigating options. Weighing benefits. Cognitive testing. And my mind racing, worrying, analysing, as we gradually came to the crunch of making the decision about Ash's schooling.

On the one hand, Ash's emotions were telling me that he needed something more than what he currently has. Whether that is about support, therapies or simply insight, we needed to think about what was best for him. So, it was recommended that we consider this particular school - a limited time offer, as he is at the upper age limit of enrolment already, being in year 4 this year.

Ash and I did a school tour, and he did two trial mornings in the classroom there. He liked it. He got along well with the other kids in the class. They liked him. The school suggested he might begin full time in just a few weeks. We had one full day trial left to complete before making the final decision.

Then Cedar got chicken pox (mildly, as he is immunised), and I let them know that Ash had been exposed. This postponed the full day trial for a couple of weeks. And in the meantime, my brain kept ticking over a million miles a minute. I had a meeting with the principal at the kids' current school. I had conversations with another school parent who has a great understanding of Autism spectrum kids. I had a conversation with my daughter's psychologist. I had a conversation with Ash's psychologist. I did research. Ben and I discussed the pros and cons, the costs and benefits - both literally, and to each of us, as well as to Ash (primarily, loss of his aide support). I wrote lists. Talked it out, juggled my thoughts, watched my kids.

And then I sat in a cafe in a shopping centre, with a coffee next to me, and wrote two emails to the specialist school - one to the principal and one to the teacher. Ash would not be changing schools. There was no need to complete the trial days. Their information has been invaluable (and I've since had another conversation with them getting more tips and advice). But our family is made up of more than one 9 year old boy. He is not even the only one on the Autism Spectrum. And, as completely as I love him and want to help him, we are one whole family unit.

You see, I'd been on a rollercoaster of decision making, and things were not crystal clear or self-evident as to what would be the best choice for Ash. But it was like I had blinkers on. I was looking at Ash as an individual, and what might be ideal for him on his own. I knew it would have a high personal cost to me if he changed schools, but I felt that I, as his mother, could sacrifice 15 months of my life for the benefit of my beautiful son.

And then I stopped. Ash is not an only child. We are not a family unit of 2 or 3. There are five of us here. It's not *just* about him, and it's not *just* about me. Sienna is 11.5 years old, a tween girl with Aspergers and ADHD, going into high school next year. How would it affect her if the pressure was on each morning to get ready early, quickly, quickly, or Ash will be late for his school a half hour drive away? How would it affect her if I am unavailable for 2 hours per day? If I feel too frustrated and tired by the juggling act to be a listening ear? As well as practical details, will I be able to take her to her high school transition program, an integration program for additional needs, if I also have to drive Ash in the opposite direction?

Cedar is 5 years old. He'll be 6 in five weeks, and he is in his first year of primary school. Next year he will be in year 1, and if Ash changed schools Cedar would be rushed out of the car, expected to walk in to school on his own, 15 minutes early every day. Is this really a good time for my energies to be so devoted to one child? With no guarantees? As well as all that, while weighing up these decisions our 1 year old dog Sparrow got very sick. She had a sudden and extreme bacterial infection, and I spent a week back and forth to the vet, getting meds into her and sitting next to her almost constantly.

I realised there was also the literal cost to our entire family - a sudden vet bill would be impossible to pay if I tied up all our available family income in private school fees for one child. And with my time commitment to driving 2 hours a day, I would hardly be able to earn any income to help pay for it. Even for Ash's sake, what about the school fulfilled his needs? Would it be worth it? What would happen at the end of 5 terms when he had to return to mainstream school, but no longer had aide support? And would this help when 5 terms later he had to transition again - a third time - to high school?

I know this seems like a big old brain dump, and it is - (epic, in fact, I'm impressed if anyone has read this far!) but it is still only a fraction of the thought rollercoaster I was riding for those 6 weeks. I just wanted to record the conflict, the unknown and unseen by most, that I know so many parents and families go through when weighing up decisions they need to make for their children. Professionals might tell you they think something will benefit your child, and our instinct is to jump in with both feet - yes, of course, let's do that! But even the loveliest professionals are not part of YOUR family, and they don't know the whole story of your everyday life. No one is as well equipped to make these decisions as you are. 

And there might be parts of the decisions you have to make over the years that are about you. Self-care, some call it, or your needs as an individual and not just a mother (or father). We might be reluctant to add these to the scales, on one side or the other, but really, we must. As their primary carers, our wellbeing - or not - at the end of the day is likely to have a stronger effect on our kids than we know. Your happiness has weight. You matter too.

Even though we decided not to make this big change, for Ash to move schools, it was not a decision not to change. We decided to take what we have learnt from the specialist school, take the conversations I had with school representatives and other professionals, and make smaller changes.

Our action plan now is:
  • Weekly 'excursions' to reward (and incentivize) Ash for attending school every day of the week, something that is hard for him
  • The development of a Sensory room at school and a strategy for including more sensory input into his day.
And that's it. Of course, each of these two things means budgeting, appointments for planning and meetings with school, among other things. But they are two key outcomes of this experience. They will both benefit others as well as Ash, and we are still showing him that what is best for him, matters to us.

It's all a learning curve, after all.

Today, bewildered - #autism and the boy

 
This boy... so incredibly lovable, he has my head spinning at the moment. Today was a particularly epic day. The kind that hindsight would advice to skip, stay in bed, don't even try. But who knows that, in the morning, right?


So, aside from the (not uncommon) reluctance to get out of bed and face school, the 75 minute separation process once I did get him there (all three kids that constant five minutes late), the skeleton onesie pyjamas being worn at school all day and the kicking, fighting, biting, beside-himself meltdown after the final bell this afternoon... aside from that, there's this feeling. The word that fits, I think most accurately, is bewildered.

I know this kid, and I know him really well. But I still find myself bewildered, wondering one day (yesterday to be precise) if a certain pattern will be our new status quo, and then flipping that back again the very next. It's not about the separation anxiety, at least, not specifically. And not about the meltdown - as amplified as his response was, there was a catalyst there.

I think the hardest thing to get my head around is the inconsistency. I am bewildered by what is different from one morning to the next. By the need to make decisions about what is best for this amazing, complex 9 year old boy, with conflicting evidence from day to day, week to week, about what those best things might be. He can be such a joy to have around, and he adores me - his anchor, his mum - like nothing else in this world. But these things won't give him an education. Hugs and teddies aren't going to make him friends. Social thinking can't be learned from one person alone.

At the moment, we are part way through the intake process at Cheshire school, a transitional school for kids with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, for Ash, as recommended by his psychologist. It's an investigative process, where actual enrolment isn't decided until a certain stage of the process, and we are not there quite yet. We're part way through. So, there have been a lot of considerations to think about, and the possibility of big change ahead. But the possibility of it not happening is there too. It's up in the air. Good things on both sides - the change, or not to change. The private, specialist school, the increased transitions, the hectic schedule for me as the driver (an extra two hours of driving a day), but the chance that this is what will work for him. And the possibility that it won't.

The principal / psychologist from the school observed Ash in his current school and classroom the other day, and we spoke a little later that afternoon. There were a lot of good points, and I agree fully with them all - he engages well with his peers, with assistance can work on the required tasks, seems generally liked by others, doesn't seem anxious within the classroom space. She could see a few things we'd spoken about as well, but the areas of concern were more subtle. These are all true things. I started to wonder if maybe this new school idea won't be the necessary goal. I hope we can avoid the big change, despite the potential benefits, for the sake of appreciating the things Ash likes about where he is at, things he would have to sacrifice to change schools. And, to be brutally honest, save the money, and driving.


But then, today, pyjamas, the morning refusal again, and the chair-tossing, workbook-ripping, heart-breaking meltdown over the end of the day, over time running out, and him not being able to do his show and tell after all. Just a final straw, on a hard day. The red beast took over, he says, and while it took half an hour to come back to a calm place, five minutes after we got home he was all hugs and apology. He's a beautiful boy. And I can easily see it. Tackling life is just a bit too much to ask sometimes.

Bec's Baby Shower - Vintage Glam styling gorgeousness!




Twin girls are on their way, and we put on a beautiful party to celebrate for my lovely cousin. Her bestie and I organised the party, and I got to do my favourite parts of a party - styling and decoration :)


So, a couple of weeks ago I took the kids over the border once more, off to Adelaide with a car full of silver trays, white tablecloths, paper flowers and vintage books. I'd spent my spare time in the weeks before making tassle garlands, a lace garland, designing activity cards and creating paper flowers. We stayed with my little sister and nephew, giving the kids a fun end to their school holidays running amok with their cousin for a day or two before the party! I took the chance to do some baking with my sister, using our family favourite chocolate cake recipe, and trying out her thermomix when making the cinnamon buttercream icing.


 

When setting up Bec's space, it was great that the fairy lights and tissue paper balls still hung beneath the decking roof, left from her wedding party last year. We added a range of umbrellas and parasols, to suit the 'baby shower' theme, in a mix of white and magenta (our party theme colours). I loved this, they looked so whimsical and gorgeous! Across the fairy lights, I strung the lace semi-circle garland that I'd made diagonally, and added the tassle garland around the edges of the decking area.







On the morning of the baby shower, tables were set up and all covered, including the permanent BBQ, with white tablecloths and fabric. Silver trays, cut glass, burlap strips, fresh ivy, vases of fresh magenta and white flowers, potted colour, gilt frames and vintage books were all placed around the tables, including two activity areas. But the food table was my favourite, everything book paper, magenta and flowers, it was so pretty. It looked even more magical in real life.





The party was really fun and happy, with our make shift photo booth (wall) and a gorgeous array of food and drink to share. I even hopped in front of the camera for a few myself (the evidence is below). Bec felt adored, everyone loved the styling and look of it all, and there are some very fun photos to keep! I call that a win :)


For guests and friends, the rest of the photos can be seen (and web-quality copies downloaded) at http://curiouser.shootproof.com/becsbabyshower